Two gunmen clad in black and wearing ski masks terrorized and robbed a group of young people early today at a home in Phoenix and shot at a Baltimore County police officer before they escaped into a nearby cornfield.
They fled, police said, with at least $2,800 in cash after pistol-whipping, kicking and threatening several people in the house, at 12616 Dulaney Valley Road.
Authorities searched the area at daybreak, using at least a dozen officers, a helicopter and three K-9 dogs. But the suspects could not be found, according to Sgt. Steven Doarnberger, police spokesman.
The search was called off shortly before 10 a.m. However, police said they planned to pick up and question two men known to them.
Police said eight men and one woman, ages 18-23, were in the green clapboard house, rented by three local college students, when the two men -- each with two guns, wearing black clothes and combat boots and with their wrists taped -- burst through the open front door at about 3 a.m.
"We want the vacation money," one shouted as he kicked one 20-year old youth who was playing a video game in the front room. Police said three of the victims left for California this morning following the robbery for vacation.
The pair, barking orders laced with profanity, went room-to-room looking for valuables and cash. Most of those in the house were robbed, police said, and at least one was beaten with a pistol. He was identified as Thomas Kramer, 19, of the 600 block of W. 33rd St.
Unknown to the intruders, either an occupant of the house or a friend was in the basement and heard the commotion upstairs. He escaped out a back door and ran across Dulaney Valley Road to another home where he called the 911 emergency number.
Cpl. David Y. McKay of the Cockeysville precinct was the first officer on the scene and reported hearing the sound of breaking glass around back of the house when he got out of his patrol car. McKay said he spotted the two gunmen, one of whom fired a shot at him.
McKay went to the front of the house while the two thieves sprinted to an adjacent cornfield and disappeared.
A state police helicopter equipped with an infra-red sensor flew over the area attempting to pick up the body heat of the two suspects. "But all we could locate were about 50 deer," one officer said.
A more organized search was initiated at first light, but tracking dogs, a helicopter and about 12 officers could not find the men. A car unfamiliar to the neighborhood and parked near the house was towed to police headquarters for possible clues to the identities of the thieves.
Baltimore City police said they received a report that the car was stolen from the Homeland area of the city, according to Doarnberger.
The suspects are described as white males, one with blond hair and blue eyes. One is about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, the other smaller in stature and of medium build.
Don Dudeck, who said he works as an agent for the Cloverland Corp., which owns the house that was robbed, said the property is rented to three college students. They have lived there for about six months.